Six years ago our friend and fellow lifter, Chris “Kong” Kong launched a new program he called “The Giant Set Back.” 6 years later he has just released a massive new set of workouts, as a result of the first ever “MASSIVE SET Backs” being held at the 2015 Ohio Super Heavy Nationals.
Progress in the fitness industry is like the wild west. Nothing is set in stone. You can pick and choose exercises at will, and develop your own workout programs. Whats more, there are no rules or regulations to how you can structure a routine, and no one is going to tell you that you can’t include certain exercises in your training. In fact, there are a few guys who swear by freeweights. One of them is Nathan Diamond, who is the author of the book “Lifting the Heavy Weight” (which I first wrote about here ).The upper back is one of the most difficult muscle groups to train. There are so many different muscle groups, including the lats, trapezius, rhomboids, teres major and erectors of the spine. The muscles of the upper back also have a healthy mix of fast and slow muscle fibers. In my experience, giant sets are one of the best training methods to increase upper back size. Giant sets are a method of hypertrophy training where you perform 4 or more exercises in a row for one muscle group with only 10 seconds of rest between exercises. Giant sets are very effective for building muscle, because they basically extend the time under tension in a set and allow you to overload a muscle with many different exercises in a short period of time. Here you can see what a giant set looks like in practice:
- Perform exercise 1, rest 10 seconds
- Perform exercise 2, rest 10 seconds.
- Perform exercise #3, rest 10 seconds.
- Do exercise 4, rest 2-4 minutes, repeat!
As you can see, the pause between each exercise is only 10 seconds. This allows you to take advantage of the three biological triggers of muscle hypertrophy, namely mechanical stress, muscle damage and metabolic fatigue. Even if you train lower reps for all four exercises, you will get an incredible pump and create excessive muscle fatigue. Here Milos Sarchev trains one of his bodybuilder clients through a great series of upper back exercises: In this handy guide, I’ll show you 7 tremendous exercises to ease your upper back. These routines were invented by some of the best bodybuilding coaches in the world, including John Meadows, Charles Polikin and Milos Sarcev. Here’s a summary of the rest of this article: Overview of Article
- Part 1: John Meadows’ giant kits
- Part 2: Charles Poliquin Giant Kits
- Part three: Miloš Sarčev Giant Set
John Meadows and Charles Polikin like to set up big upper back sets with 4-5 exercises in a row. Milos Sarchev, on the other hand, likes to put together giant sets for the upper back, up to 10 exercises, which he performs one after the other. If you train like a beast by following one of these programs, you will be rewarded with a bigger, firmer back. Message: If you have trouble reading the workout routines in this article, check out this workout reading guide. Let’s get to work… Part 1: John Meadows Giants John Meadows is the creator of mountain dog training and one of the world’s most famous strength trainers. Giant sets are one of John’s favorite training strategies to train a flabby upper back. The upper back is one of those muscle groups that responds well to a wide range of exercises and many periods of tension. One of John’s favorite ways to do an upper back workout with a giant set is to choose 4-5 different exercises and perform sets of 8 reps per exercise. John prefers to choose 4 very different exercises to work as many different areas of the upper back as possible. Here’s a simpler workout with a huge upper back set that John performed when he returned to training after taking a break of several weeks from a bodybuilding competition. Look at this: John Meadows Giant upper back set #1
- A1 : Smith machine high bar, 4 x 8, 1/1/X/0, 10 second pause
- A2 : Pullover on back with DB, 4 x 8, 1/0/1/0, rest 10 seconds
- A3 : Row machine with double sided kettlebell with forward bend, 4 x 8, 1/0/1/0, rest 10 seconds
- A4: chest row with band, 4 x 8, 1/0/1, rest 10 seconds
- A5 : Arm curl, 4 x 60 seconds, 3-5 minutes rest
You can click here to watch the training video for this session. As you can see, John uses a wide range of exercises to overload the different parts of the upper back. John doesn’t use much weight in any of the exercises. Instead, he focuses on reducing muscle mass to weight, creating a great mind-muscle connection and getting a good pump. That’s good advice. Training with giant sets is not really about lifting the maximum weight. Instead, the goal is to stimulate muscle growth by creating as much muscle damage and metabolic fatigue as possible. Now let’s look at another John Meadows workout with a large upper back complex. Look at this: John Meadows Giant Upper Back Kit Route #2
- A1 : Chest press row (wide/pressure grip), 4 x 8, 1/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2: Diagonal pull DB, 4 x 8, 1/0/1/0, 10 second pause
- A3 : Tilmanoeuvre (tight/neutral grip), 4 x 8, 1/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
- A4 : Rowing DB single, 4 x 8, 1/0/X/0, rest 10 seconds
You can click here to watch the training video for this session. Again, John uses a wide range of exercises to overload all the different areas of the upper back. Chest compression pulls focus more on the trapezius and the rhomboids; low bar pulls focus more on the upper glutes and the serratus anterior; neutral grip pulls focus more on the lower glutes; and finally, unilateral bar pulls focus primarily on the lower glutes and the trapezius, rhomboids, and erectors of the spine. In the video, John says his lower lats need more work to catch up with the rest of his body, so he used two exercises that address that part of the back. If you want to create your own mountain dog style upper back workout, I suggest doing 4-5 totally different circular exercises in sets of 8 reps. John doesn’t always train his upper back with gigantic sets. Still, it’s one of her favorite training methods to work out her flabby back. Part 2: Charles Poliquin Giant Ensemble Charles Polikin was one of the world’s greatest strength trainers and trained many professional IFBB bodybuilders, including Ben Pakulski and Milos Sarcev. Charles was a big fan of big weight machines. He found them especially suitable for muscles with a lot of slow-feeling muscle fibers, such as the quadriceps, deltoids and upper back. Charles Poliquin takes a similar approach to John Meadows in developing his upper back programs: It uses a wide range of exercises to hit the upper back from as many angles as possible. Charles often uses isolation exercises for small muscle groups like the deltoids or lower traps to make sure they get the attention they deserve. Here is a program for a huge upper back exercise that Charles wrote for a fitness magazine years ago. Look at this: Charles Poliquin Giant Upper Back Routine #1
- A1. pull-ups (medium/neutral grip), 5 x 6-8, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A2 : Rowing at the rack (wide/supine grip), 5 x 6-8, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A3 : Side pull-ups (wide/supine grip), 5 x 8-10, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest.
- A4 : Seated rope roll up to neck, 5 x 8-10, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
- A5: Straight arm pull-ups (middle/upper grip), 5 x 10-12, 4/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest
Here are the training videos for this session: Exercise A1, Exercise A2, Exercise A3, Exercise A4, Exercise A5. In this huge set, Charles uses some of his favorite exercises, including pull-ups and a neck rope squat. It also uses a large number of repetitions and a slow eccentric pace with each exercise to really increase the time under tension. Charles is known for his time under tension training protocols and really tries to manipulate the time under tension on each exercise for maximum growth. Let’s take a look at another of Charles Polikin’s massive upper back series. This program was written for an athlete that Charles was coaching at the time. Look at this: Charles Poliquin Giant Upper Back Routine #2
- A1 : Mechanical rowing machine with pause and pull on shoulder blades, 4 x 6-8, 2/0/X/2, pause 10 seconds.
- A2: Deadlift (wide/arm grip), 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/2, 10 seconds rest
- A3 : Posterior deltoid sit-up, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/2, 10 s rest
- A4 : DB bars at a 30 degree angle, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/2, 10 seconds rest.
- A5 : Inverted superman oblique, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/2, 4 minutes rest.
Here are the training videos for this session: Exercise A1, Exercise A2, Exercise A3, Exercise A4, Exercise A5. In this program, Charles uses a series of isolation exercises for the smaller muscle groups of the upper back, including the rear deltoids and lower traps. One of the really interesting aspects of this routine is that Charles doesn’t let his gymnast pause for more than 2 seconds during each exercise. In the case of the deadlift, for example. B. The athlete lifts the weight to the chest in an explosive motion, pauses for 2 seconds in a lowered position, and then lowers the weight again for 2 seconds. This tempo training technique actually increases the time under tension for each exercise and makes the whole giant set much more effective for building muscle mass. This is definitely something to keep in mind when developing your own overall upper back routine! Part 3: Miloš Sarčev It’s time to talk about the king of giant set training: Milos Sarchev. Milos Sarchev is an IFBB professional bodybuilder and one of the most successful bodybuilding coaches the world has ever seen. He has trained many professional bodybuilders, including Mr. Mills. Dennis Wolf, Olympic finalist. Milos likes to develop giant sets where you do more than 10 exercises in a row, with no rest between sets. Yes, you read that right – Milos Sarchev’s giant sets often include more than 10 exercises in a row! It’s an extreme way of training, but it works like magic for Milosz and his clients. Make sure you take post-workout nutrition seriously – you’ll need it! One of Milos Sarcev’s favorite training strategies is to perform giant sets specifically to increase back width and giant sets specifically to increase back strength. Big back sets focus on gluteal exercises like pull-ups and lat pulls. In contrast, the giant sequences for inverse thickness are concentrated on different types of rows. Here’s a great routine Milos Sarchev wrote for Sergio Olivia Jr. Look at this: Milos Sarcev Back Width Giant Set Routine
- A1: pull-ups (wide/arm grip)**, 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, no rest
- A2 : Tilmanoeuvre (wide/arm grip), 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, without pause.
- A3 : Neck cord traction (wide/impregnated grip), 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, no rest
- A4 : Powerful pull-ups (close grip or higher), 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, no rest.
- A5 : Rope pull (wide/upper grip), 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, no rest.
- A6: rope climbing (narrow/neutral grip), 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, no rest
- A7 : Hammer pulls (overhand grip), 1x 20***, 1/0X/0, no rest.
- A8 : 75 degree tug of war behind the neck (wide/impacted grip), 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, no rest.
- A9 : Pull-ups at 75 degrees (wide/top grip), 1 x 10, 1/0X/0, 3-5 minutes rest.
**Executing an incomplete range of motion. ***For the first 10 reps, your training partner will add manual resistance for 1-2 seconds in a stretched position. You can click here to watch the training video for this session. As you can see, Sergio Olivia Jr. performs 9 different exercises that target the major muscle groups of the back, such as. B. Lats and Teres Major. Instead of using a sophisticated tempo or repetition pattern for each exercise, Milos simply tells Sergio to do 10 reps for each exercise. When Sergio can’t do the 10 reps on his own, Milos jumps in and helps him do a few more forced reps to get to the 10 reps. Milosz believes that just the number of exercises keeps time under tension, so there’s no need to get fancy with the reps or tempo for each exercise. Now let’s take a look at the massive fat back workout Milos Sarchev designed for Sergio Olivia Jr. Look at them: Miloš Sarčev Backbone Set Routine
- A1: Seated rower (medium/neutral grip), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, no rest
- A2: Seated rower (wide/neutral grip), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, no pause
- A3 : Standing rowing machine (medium grip/short grip), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, without pause.
- A4 : Powerful pull-ups (medium/semi-close grip), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, no rest.
- A5 : Cable pull (medium/super grip), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, no rest
- A6 : Seated pull with cable (narrow/neutral plug), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, without rest.
- A7: 75 degree pull up (narrow/semi-supine grip), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, no rest
- A8 : Prone rowing machine (narrow grip/semi prone), 1 x 10, 1/0/X/0, 3-5 minutes rest
You can click here to watch the training video for this session. For this massive series of back strengthening exercises, Sergio Olivia Jr. performs many different exercises on machines and cables. He also does various weight-bearing exercises. It is very important when developing a good back workout not to use too many exercises that overload the lower back such as B. Deadlifts, standing lifts, dumbbell exercises, etc. These exercises are very difficult to recover from and limit the amount you can do during a workout. So far we’ve looked at Milos Sarcev’s giant kits, focusing only on width or back strength. Milosz also writes huge upper back programs where you do exercises of different widths and thicknesses in one program. Here’s an example. Look at this: Miloš Sarčev Backwash / Thick Giant Set Routine
- A1 : Rowing at the bar, 1 x 13, 1/0/X/0, without rest
- A2 : Standing deadlift (just below the knees), 1 x 10, 1/1/0, no rest.
- A3 : Standing dumbbell press, 1 x 10, 1/0/1/0, with no rest.
- A4: fly swing (wide/neutral grip), 1 x 10, 2/0/X/0, no rest
- A5 : Row on parallel bars, 1 x 6, 1/0/1/2, without rest
- A6 : DB-Pullover lying down, 1 x 8, 2/0/1/0, without pause
- A7: rope climbing (medium/neutral grip), 1 x 8, 1/0/X/1, no rest
- A8: rope climbing (narrow grip/impregnated), 1 x 8, 1/0/X/1, no rest
- A9 : Flat pull-ups (wide/upper grip), 1 x 9, 1/0/X/0, no rest.
- A10 : Seated rope row (tight/neutral grip), 1 x 20, 1/0/X/1, 3-5 minutes rest.
You can click here to watch the training video for this session. Talk about a brutal workout with a huge set! This program includes a wide range of exercises to literally overload every muscle group in the upper back. The big disadvantage of giant sets in the style of Milos Sarchev is that they are very difficult to perform in a normal commercial gym. Finally, most gyms don’t allow you to use 4 different machines at the same time. If you have access to a good gym where you can do these exercises, you can expect the fastest progress of your life. If you get a chance to practice this procedure, I highly recommend you give it a try. Supplement Giant sets are an incredible way to train for muscle growth. They allow you to perform several exercises in a very short period of time and really overload your muscles while they are under tension. Many of the world’s best bodybuilding coaches, such as John Meadows, Charles Polikin and Milos Sarchev, use giant sets with their clients to build muscle mass in record time. If you want to know more about the giant set training style, read the following article: Milos is the true king of training with large nets. In this article, you’ll discover many of his secrets, including how to incorporate different high intensity training techniques into your giant set routine to make it even more effective for muscle growth. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes for further encouragement: If you always set limits on everything you do, physical or otherwise, it will affect your work and your life. There are no restrictions. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go over them. Thanks for reading and good luck with your strength training! Dr. Mike Jansen. I am the creator and owner of Revolutionary Program Design. I help advanced athletes take their training to the next level and achieve results they didn’t even know they had.
Link to Progressive Overload for Muscle Building : A complete guide! link to How to shape saggy breasts! How to shape saggy breasts! Most modern bodybuilders have sagging breasts. Her shoulders and triceps are absolutely huge, but her chest generally lags behind the rest of her upper body. If your breasts have sagged….
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